Pending any revolt from the National Hockey League Players’ Association, The NHL Board of Governors passed the four-Conference alignment format. The west coast really will slip into the ocean and perish with this new layout. The Canes depart from their current southern neighbors to head north. Here’s how things are shaking out:
Conference A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
Conference B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Conference D: Carolina, New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Now for the details…every team plays every team home and away. Conference C and D have fewer teams with seven (Hello Expansion, so nice to hear from you.) so they would play their inner teams three times at home and three times away. Conference A and B teams will face each other 5 or 6 times, and rotate each season.
As for the playoffs, the NHL declared…
The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.
This is a major overhaul and the Canes will definitely be impacted by the redecorating. The travel schedule shouldn’t be an issue and our fellow conference teams should put some extra butts in RBC seats. However, let’s see how past 6 games have fared for the Canes against our new Conference D buddies:
NJ Devils: 1-4-1
NY Rangers: 2-2-2
NY Islanders 4-0-0
*These nasty statistics are combined from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 season from nhl.com. Good grief, that is ugly.
Regardless of the teams we play, the Canes need to improve. We will face challenges in each conference. I could throw myself on the floor, kick, and scream about how the games against the Caps will give me ulcers and playing the Rangers will be harmful for my blood pressure. Alas, I will resist…or restrict myself to 60 seconds of freak out time.
The playoff format is also altered, but Carolina would be in the same predicament if the changes were enforced immediately. Gaining a playoff spot is a very long shot and time grows short. The exterior adjustments will certainly influence next season, but Canes need to focus in-house first. Our new coach is still settling in, trade rumors are still swirling, and our three game trek up North needs to produce some serious points.